Monday, January 27, 2014

Eternal Life--A Picture

One of my readers admonished me to paint a picture of eternal life. It seems a reasonable request, now that I have had the last two weeks to offer a Biblical perspective on the subject.  Fortunately for me I have already painted such a picture in one of my short stories found in my recent collection, Seven Stories.  Thus, to honor my reader's request, I will post the story here in two parts. It is definitely the most philosophical/theological of my stories, so hopefully you will find it both thought-provoking and entertaining.

A Lesson in Time

“You know what kind of a state I was in.  I was tired.  The world was tired; I was tired of having to explain why the world was tired.  I know it sounds self-important for me to say that.  You probably thought so then; maybe you still do.”

I should, at this point, insert a footnote to this conversation that ensued after completion of my experiment, which I am recording herein in its entirety. As it stood at the time, despite the fact that I loved my friend, I felt he might have been losing his grip.  It wasn’t that he wasn’t a caring person, because he was and is—certainly one of the most caring people I have known.  Although he was a scientist, he had begun to court religion.  He saw this huge mountain standing between humanity and true peace; and he was growing more and more dubious of the ability of science to break down this mountain.  Certainly peace is a noble ambition, and I could hardly fault him for searching for it; but I could not help but think zeal such as his came perilously close to becoming pathological.  I thought my friend had managed to maintain equilibrium, but sometimes I feared for him—that he might crumble under the pressure of all the troubles of our race.

At the end of the experiment he returned in a state of serenity quite atypical of him.  I worried that the stress of the experiment had been too much, and I was witnessing the euphoria of madness.  I was wrong.

“I didn’t mean to sound that way. I know I’m no better than anyone else.  It seemed like everywhere I turned, though, people were saying two plus two equals five. I would insist that two plus two equals four.  And immediately the burden would be on me to prove it.  I would try my best to do so, and the response I would invariably hear would be, ‘You’re too narrow.’ Or ‘Yeah, but--’ Or ‘You’re too idealistic.’ Or ‘You have your values and I have mine.’ Or ‘Ah, but I’ve found the way to make it equal to five,’ and every other excuse one might expect to find from people desperate for something they could not put their finger on.  I was fed up with it.  Everyone wants a free ride to paradise.  I’m telling you; I felt like Elijah sitting beneath the tree whimpering to God, ‘Woe is me, there is no one left who would follow you. I’m the only one and I just want to die.’  Pathetic? Yes. Heartfelt? I think so.  True? No. Elijah was tired, too.”

“Fatigue definitely clouds one’s perspectives,” I said, not entirely sure of what he was talking about.

“Yes, but rest wasn’t cutting it for me anymore.  If anything it made matters worse.  I needed to get away.  So when you told me of your time machine--”

“Portal,” I interrupted.

“When you told me of your time portal, I was intrigued.  People just had to change eventually.  Somewhere up ahead the madness had to stop and people would come to their senses.  And if they didn’t, then I’d know for sure that I’m the delusional one, after all. I figured if your experiment worked it didn’t matter what I might find out. The way I saw it, in any event, I could stop all the ruminating and finally get a decent night’s sleep.”

“And my experiment worked!” I said.

“Yes, my friend, it worked beautifully.”

“So tell me.” I sat forward in my chair. “What happened?  What did you discover?”

“A total mystery, I might as well have been an alien from another planet. Virtually everything I first saw there was unrecognizable. Well, that’s not quite true. I did know what everything was, but they made no sense in context. It was like the time my brother showed me an advanced math text of his.  I read the first paragraph and I knew the meaning of absolutely every word, yet the paragraph made no sense—pure gibberish, leastwise to me.  The future world you had sent me was just like that.”

“Had things changed that much in a century?” I asked.

“You know how stories usually depict the future.  Either they import their own cultural setting into the new world and then touch it up a bit with a little imagined advanced technology, or they paint the future in a kind of a stark geometric austerity--you know--with the cold colorless lines of perfected efficiency—the author’s vision of idealistic order, which always seems to be soulless; it’s a curious thing.  But in the real future, the world where you had sent me, neither prognosis proved even remotely correct.

“Somewhere during the passing of that blip of time, human culture had diverged at a ninety degree angle from either the reaction or progression portrayed in our mythologies.  It almost seems pointless for me to try and describe it to you—such as when I asked my father to tell me about the war and he said he wouldn’t attempt it, because I couldn’t understand.  I’m afraid you won’t understand; I fear I may have too few reference points by which to guide you.  Then again, perhaps what I saw will explain itself. In any event, what it looked like is not all that important.  What I need you to grasp is what it meant.”

“Go on,” I said.

“I must have stuck out like a sore thumb, yet no one seemed to care I was there.  Fact was they seemed oblivious to each other.  Everyone walked around everyone else, but no one walked together.  Each person seemed locked in his or her own intent and space without ever intersecting another’s personal bubble. In one sense their movement seemed random; yet clearly there was purpose in it.  From time to time a person would stop and a tinted plane would appear, pass in front of the person and both would dissolve away.  Another person might, moments later, pass over the very same space and simply move on.  As near as I could tell, however, everyone eventually came to a spot from which they would then disappear as I described.  For this reason, I surmised there was nothing of what we would call vehicles.  Everyone of that seemingly detached populace only walked—some appearing, some vanishing in the manner I have already related.  I watched all those comings and goings while I was resting beneath a tree that stood in one square of a vast crystalline grid.”

“Grid?” I asked.

“Yes, that’s exactly what it was.  And the flat checkered plane appeared to extend out indefinitely—every so often spotted, however, with various plant specimens from our old world, such as the tree I sat under.  I saw no sun. I guessed I was inside a huge dome of some kind.  The vivid blue sky, or ceiling, somehow illumined the entire plane.  There were no buildings, or benches, or fountains, or statuary, or any manufactured thing that I could see--only, as I said, periodic intrusions of nature.  And the light shining on the plants, even though sparsely laid out—leastwise, it appeared so to me—turned the entire crystalline field into a veritable garden of color and forms, without hindering anybody’s movement or obscuring the squares everyone apparently needed to move around on.  The effect had so much depth that I’m still not sure if in reality it wasn’t a vast dense garden.

“I didn’t know what to do.  I had hoped to find some answers, optimistic—as I said—for a better world, and if not, at least resignation.  I was fairly certain I would feel out of place.  But I never expected it to be like some kind of an out-of-body experience.  In frustration I said to no one, ‘good grief.’  I said it out loud, just as I am saying it to you now—quiet, more of a sigh than anything else.  Yet, one of the persons stopped and looked at me. It was a beautiful woman—perfect in form and stature, like an artist might create on a canvas.  The ideal female.

“Her eyes were filled with compassion.  I heard, ‘Are you sad?’

“Mind you, I didn’t exactly hear this because the sound sort of formed within my head, rather than received audibly through my ears.  And her words didn’t form emotionless like some automated voice, either, but were filled with warmth and genuine concern.  I didn’t at all get the impression that she was only curious or just trying to be sociable.

I answered her verbally, ‘Not sad, just frustrated.’  Not totally honest.

“She said—that is, telepathed--if that is a verb--‘That’s sadness.’

“‘I suppose it is,’ I told her.  ‘I’m too tired to argue the point.’

“So she says, ‘Sadness has many forms.  Sadness is despair, it is loss and frustration, fear and want, hopelessness, loneliness, sickness--’

“‘I get it,’ I interrupted.  ‘You are quite right. I am sad.’

“To which she replied, ‘You are a stranger, here, then.’  Notice she wasn’t asking but telling me this.

“‘Well, of course, isn’t it obvious?” I retorted.

“She replied by saying, ‘Yes, your sadness tells me you are.’

“’Pointing out our attire, I said, ‘I mean, look at you and look at me.’

“But she said, ‘Yes, I am happy and you are sad.
“‘No, no,’ I said. “Our appearance—our dress—is different.’

“‘I only see your heart.’ She said this tenderly: ‘I only see your heart.’—just like that.  And then she added, ‘You are your heart.’

“So I asked her, ‘And your heart is happy?’

“Her reply was, ‘Yes, every heart here is happy.  Look!’  She turned and swept her hand before the teaming populace moving to and fro and in and out upon the vast grid.  All I could see was what I described before: a sea of moving dispassionate humanity.

“‘I don’t understand,’ I blurted.  ‘Can this be happiness?  You say they are happy.  But why should I believe you?  Look at our race—leastwise, I think you are human.’

“And she says, ‘You are right in saying so.’

“I would then make my point. I said, ‘Human beings, the humans of which I count myself, are social creatures.  They are persons.  They touch, they caress, they talk, they laugh, they cry and, yes, they push and pull and argue and fight—they confront and they turn away.  What has happened to us?  What has possessed us?  How can you call this bleak existence of yours, happiness?  I’ve come all this way, hoping to find that things would be different, that, I supposed, there would at last be happiness, only to find out that if this is happiness, then only a fool would want to be happy.’

“All she would say to that was, ‘You are sad.’

“So I told her, ‘At least it’s an honest emotion, not this anesthetized state.  Can’t you see how everyone here is disenfranchised?  There is no passion, no warmth that I can see.  How can you call this happiness?  Have you been drugged?’

“She answered by explaining, ‘You are sad because you don’t understand.  You speak as a mere man, we speak as authentic humans.  We know who we are and what we are and why we are.  Each of us knows the other the same way--happiness.’

“‘But no one talks to each other,’ I complained.

“Her response to that was, ‘It only appears so because we are one.’

“So I asked her, ‘In what way are you one?’

“She answered, ‘Many purposes make up a single purpose.  Many meanings are one meaning.  Does your foot talk with your eyes, or your hands with your nose?  Yet they all understand each other and each responds to the needs of the other, for each one has its own name.  And together the purpose of the body is done.  This is one meaning from all those separate meanings—one purpose in many.’

“But I said, ‘Where I come from, to be a mere cog in a machine is demeaning.’

“So she says, ‘You are sad because you want both society and solitude at the same time.’

“I didn’t know what to say to that, so I said, ‘No, I must have my own name or I can’t be happy.’

“‘Your meaning is your name,’ she says. ‘You want a name.  We have two names.’

“I argued that they still cannot be unique because many must have the same meaning.  I reminded her that she had so much as said so.

“She then explained to me that we have been built into a tower not unlike the one spoken of in the Shepherd of Hermas.  Each of us is a stone.  Some stones are for the walls, others for the foundation, some for the windows, some for the floors, some are decorative, and others are hidden.  But each has been perfectly hewn for its place, and each place is necessary. You can see that many stones may have the same function.  Regardless, each stone is unique.  The decorative stones might be mottled, or veined with quartz, others might be precious stones, and some might be granite.  Structural stones might serve the foundation, others the walls, and some the roof.  Each is as highly valued as the next for the perfection of the house. And all priceless because each has a name. She said that was the first meaning she spoke of.  And that we each have a unique name for this meaning.  And everyone knows that name.”

“Shepherd of Hermas?” I asked.

“Beats me.  I asked her, ‘You spoke of two names.  Does that mean there is another purpose?’

“She said, ‘Each of us has a meaning known only to us and God.  The name He has given each of us for this purpose is a secret name known only to the bearer and the Creator.  And this meaning was in the mind of Him when only He is.’

“Naturally, I asked her to tell me about this meaning and purpose.

“But she said, ‘I cannot, except to say that it is an eternal purpose ordained by God for Him in each creature, who knows God, for the pleasure of God.  When we know our names and He calls us by our name, only then are we happy.  Do you understand?’

 “By this point my head was swimming, so I asked her, ‘If we are one with Him and, if I follow you, each other, can we really possess a unique name?  For that matter, if I am united with you and all these people, can I or you or any one of them be distinct?’

 “Listen and tell me if what she said next doesn’t change your perspective forever. Her answer shot through me like a round from a high powered rifle. Listen to what she said. She said, ‘Unity doesn’t dissolve distinction.  Unity creates distinction.  Without unity, everything is the same.’”

He sat back and stared at me. “What did I tell you?”

True, I hadn’t thought of it before then.  The idea that we only discover our true self when we relinquish it for the purpose of a god and others was certainly an alien idea to me.  And we are only true individuals—that is, distinct—when we know and act according to our true self in the context of some collective purpose.  Her proposition was earth-shatteringly simple and, at the same time, very elusive.

For a long moment I fidgeted with my pen while he stared at me as if I were a computer and he could watch the binary code processing.  I finally looked him in his eyes when I believed I had grasped her proposition that when we each pursue our own purpose, we destroy unity with each other and we all become carbon copies of each other.  I suppose this was meant to account for the fact we are frantic, angry, directionless, grasping, possessive, isolated beings—people in a crowd, yet completely alone.
I thought about how monochromatic our world is in all its self-interest.  And for the first time, I actually felt something like grief for my race.  But what I told my friend was, “I don’t know.  To suggest that transcending self is the only way of finding self seems way too simple. It’s not the way it works.”

I struggled with my friend’s report.  What he had discovered was unexpected; another empire had not suddenly burst on the scene; a new political system hadn’t imposed itself on the world; it wasn’t communism; it wasn’t a one world government; it wasn’t a system of any kind.  It was a state of being. It was, for the lack of a better term, heaven.  But how could that be?  Heaven isn’t rational.  It couldn’t be an evolved state; a hundred years wasn’t long enough for that.  Science couldn’t accommodate the facts; yet I was confronted with the inerrancy of my own science.  It was my invention, carefully constructed and tested over many years of painstaking experimentation.  What it revealed was the future, as it will be.  This was fact; there could be no doubt about it.  I didn’t want to believe the results, but I had no choice but to believe them.

“Was there color in this world of hers? Was what you had seen there vibrant beyond anything you have ever seen before?  Tell me. I must know.”

“I cannot even begin to tell you,” he said.  “Are you okay, my friend?”

“If it’s true, then my life has been a sham.”

“Exactly my thought.  And I tried to tell her this.  I told her, ‘I’ve been wrong to think I could find happiness by distinguishing myself from others.  I see that now.  I suspect it is why I’m so tired. Why I just want to stop running.’

“She answered me with a voice full of mercy, ‘Yes, you are sad because you don’t know your names.’

“I asked her, ‘And these names are my purposes?’

“She told me, ‘Each name is the meaning for which you have your existence.  You are right in what you say.’

“‘Where can I find them?’ I asked.

“She replied, ‘You find them in God not in yourself.  There is the meaning for all of our existence—the first meaning I spoke of. Meaning unique to you or me or to each person who knows God—that secret purpose. And the meaning uniting them all.’

“Of course, I asked her if I could know this third meaning.”

“And did she tell you?” I asked impatiently.

“She said, ‘Come, take my hand and we shall see.’

"She extended her hand and we walked onto the grid.  Her touch was soft, gentle, and warm.  I thought of my dear wife and how much I missed her.  Suddenly we were surrounded by space.  No, it was more like we were suspended in space.  Not black space, but--for lack of a better way to describe it—a dimensionless region of light bursting and dissipating, forming and un-forming in a show of brilliant colors and shapes and vapors and—how can I explain it to you, my dear friend, how can I have you comprehend the beauty of it?  Except to say that it was far greater than you could hope or imagine.  Any attempt to create it in your mind will fall hopelessly short.  With that I am certain.

“In the next instant we stood together in a lush meadow that was super-real in every respect to the most beautiful place I ever experienced on earth—you know what I mean, earth prior to its future.  Everywhere I turned, my eyes were dazzled by the color and purity of the grass, trees, plants, animals, the crystalline water of a lake that lapped up onto a narrow beach near our feet, the mountains that loomed in the distance, and the sky—that vibrant sunless blue sky that lighted it all. All of it took my breath away, and so serene—such a gentle quietness, I have never felt such peace.

“The entire scene seemed to resonate—not just visually, but sonically, as well.  I wish you could hear such melodies, my friend.  The strange and wonderful yet ephemeral strains of that music awakened and nourished my soul like nothing ever has.

“I saw some people sitting amongst some Siberian tigers.  One cuddled a little cub in his arms while another was wrestling playfully with the mother.  I marveled at the gentleness of the powerful creatures and the obvious intimacy between them and their human caretakers.  I also saw other people picking fruit from trees that sagged under the weight of their produce, large and succulent and plentiful.

“A small and colorful bird flitted around my hostess before perching on her wrist, where it began feeding on some grain in the palm of her hand while she was gently stroking its tiny head.  Don’t ask me where the grain came from because I couldn’t say.  I will tell you that I observed no fear or timidity in the frail animal. The tender moment brought tears to my eyes.

“I turned and watched others herding some elk into the high country.  My hostess seemed to sense in my eyes the question forming in my mind and explained that those creatures thrive through their regular pilgrimages up to the high meadows to graze and back again to the valley.

“‘The grass is good either here or there, but their life is perfected through the ritual,’ she explained.

“I asked her if this is the meaning she spoke of.

“She smiled sweetly and answered, ‘Come, I have one more place for you to know.’

“The scene morphed into a bright light. And as my eyes adjusted to that intense light, a thunderous song filled my ears:
‘Holy, Holy, Holy
Is God, Lord Almighty,
Who is and was and is to come.

Glory, Glory, Glory
To the Lamb that was slain
The Word that is
From everlasting to everlasting!’

Majesty, honor, praise
To the Great Testimony
Who is a lamp to Mankind
Power to live without end.

Holy, Holy, Holy
To the Father, Lord of all.
By Whom all that was not
Lives and has its being.

Glory, Glory, Glory
To the Great I AM
Who is One in Three
And Three in One

God of gods
Lord of lords
King of kings
Hallowed be His Name
Both now and forever.’
“Those words sang from the mouths of masses of people all around me.  The number of which was beyond counting.  And their individual forms appeared to shimmer in the light and sound—distinguishable one moment and obscured the next. Some have talked about quantum-senses.  Do you think it possible?”

“Well,” I stammered.

“Believe me it is.  At least I have no other way of explaining what I had felt there.  I heard the light, smelled the colors and saw the sounds at the same time as sensing all of those things in the usual manner.  What should have been chaos and a cacophony of stimuli all converged into perfect harmony. What should have been a sensory overload was pure serenity.  My eyes shouldn’t have been able to stand the brightness of the light of that place, like many suns.  Instead, the light soothed my eyes.  There was no need to shut them or even squint.  Nor did I want to for fear of missing even a second of the splendor going on around me.  The din should have shattered my eardrums, but the sound fell gently on my ears like the choruses of those clear summer nights I remember so well growing up in Northern Canada.

“The scene or vision was full of contradictions like these.  But what I cannot explain at all was the deep sense of freedom that had washed over me like the warm surf of the south pacific.  I had felt liberated not only from the obvious burdens we all talk about, such as mortality or worry or fear; but freed in remote parts of my being that, up until then, I didn’t even know existed, let alone needed liberating.  It was like the doors of hidden vaults deep within my soul had been opened and this black tar oozed out.  What I can only describe as a chronic ache that has been throbbing throughout my life, which I must have from the beginning subconsciously repressed, briefly flared like a shrieking demon and then vanished.

“I looked down to see if I was standing on ground because I became overwhelmed by a sense of weightlessness.  Now, don’t misunderstand me.  I don’t think what I am trying to convey was in any way physical, but I can’t explain it in any other terms.  No, what I then came to realize was how heavy, dull, clumsy and trapped my life has always been.  I thought of the best day of my life--”

“You mean when you won the prize?” I asked.

“Yes, you remember the time.  My wife and I were in perfect health then and we had no more financial burdens.  Our life had reached that pinnacle of human achievement.  We had scaled the mountain of the American dream and had planted our flag squarely on its summit.  ‘It doesn’t get any better than this!’ I think we boasted at the time.  But it was such a lie.  Because what came after that? Did I know? I ask you; do you know what will come after this great invention of yours?  Let me tell you.  I don’t think I had blinked twice before I asked myself, what next?  That single query betrayed the absurdity of it all.  And I had never seen it until I stood there enveloped by all the Glory of this place beyond your portal.

“I finally understood the meaning of true completeness—what I can only call, because language fails me, free freedom. By that I don't mean the Bohemian freedom of Rousseau and his ilk, but freedom in which all one's moral obligations are satisfied because one is inherently perfect without thinking about it.  For, as you know, if you have to think about it, you aren't perfect, and you're not freely free.  But there I was freely free, my friend; there I was...or at least I sensed what it must be like.

“Mind you, my hostess explained none of this to me.  She didn’t have to.  All that I am trying desperately to relate to you about the meaning of what I experienced there was totally self-evident.  I suddenly realized that an invisible tutor had been teaching me the whole time.”

“Who?” I asked.

“I don’t know….It must have been God.  Who else could it have been?  Whoever it was, neither my tutor nor my hostess had answered my question. I still didn’t know what this third meaning was.  I had this sickening feeling that the answer was all around me, but I was just too dense to see it.

“‘I still don’t understand,’ I told her, pleading. ‘Perhaps if you showed me more, I will see what this third meaning is.’

“‘She answered, ‘These sights are all you can understand now, but there are infinite more to experience and infinite time to experience them.  You and I and all of these,’--she again swept her hand before the multitude--‘are beings. Do you understand?’

“‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘We have all been created by Him whom we worship.’

“She said, ‘You are right in saying so.  But only God is absolute being.  It is for and by this third meaning that we live on and on into everlasting and everlasting--that we would move ever closer to absolute being, without, of course, ever reaching it.  This is eternal life.  And in it the three purposes are achieved.’

“‘I think I understand,’ I said.  ‘Please tell me.  What is this third meaning?’

“She refused to tell me.  Instead she says, ‘This is not yet your time.  You have been given a rare gift, but you must go back.’

“For the first time I understood what Samuel must have felt after being ushered back into the world by the witch of Endor.  I didn’t want to go back.  But I had no choice.”

“I thought it strange that you backed your way through the portal,” I said.  “Did she force you in some way?”

“No, it was more as if I was dragged.  Anyway, she didn’t push me.  How much time do you think transpires, you know, actual time---either there or here--how much time actually passes when someone steps through your portal?”

“You probably couldn’t measure it.  Essentially zero time.  I don’t think it is really a proper question, anyway.  Why do you ask?”

“They say a dream only lasts a few seconds.  Yet so much actually happens in a dream that it appears it has lasted the whole night.”

“Yes, that is the conventional thinking on the subject,” I said.

“Well, as I passed through the portal back to the present I was assailed by voices—voices of doubt.  They all seemed to be saying, in one way or another, ‘Don’t believe it!  It’s all been an illusion created by your mind.’

“I started to argue with the voices. ‘You’re wrong!’ I said. ‘I know my own mind. I know the difference between reality and fiction—sleep and consciousness.’

“But they rejoined, ‘You’re waking up now! It’s only been a dream—a silly sentimental dream—the imaginings of children.  Be a man!  Don’t be a fool.  Progress has only ever been made because men have asserted themselves over others.  Nothing is ever accomplished by considering first the needs of others.’

“‘No, no, no!’ I shouted. ‘So little has ever been accomplished because everyone strives for themselves.  I know this now.  I won’t listen to your lies any longer.  You lie, you lie!’

“Then with even greater venom the voices struck back, ‘You delude yourself, for there is no example of what you describe in the history of the world.  No such force operates in the universe.  You lie!  And it’s the worst of lies because you deceive yourself!’

“I shouted, if not screamed--perhaps more to drown out my own feelings of doubt than from a solid conviction--‘It does exist! It does exist! I know that it does.  It must or nothing makes any sense.  Christ’s alive! There is a third meaning. The third meaning has always been operating.  We’ve been blind to it. I’ve been blind to it, but it is there.  It is working!  I say it again, Christ’s alive!’  I don’t even know why I said ‘Christ’s alive’.  The words just came out.

“The voices hissed, ‘You don’t know what you are talking about.  There is no third meaning.  Nothing exists without a name. And it has no name or it would have been given you!  It’s all weakness.  The only strength in the universe is Self! The I’s have it. The I’s have it.  The I’s have it.’  The voices would not relent.  They kept on chanting louder and louder, ‘The I’s have it!’”

“But you seemed so calm when you came through the portal,” I interrupted.  “I didn’t notice any agitation in you, none whatsoever—no terror. How could that be?  I would have been an absolute wreck if I were you.”

“I heard her voice.”

“You mean the person you visited?”

“Yes, I heard her voice.  Over all that vicious taunting, her voice rose up.  It was sweet just as it had been before.  And it wasn’t threatened.  That’s what intrigued me about it.  You might predict she should cry out something in worried tones, as if she didn’t intervene quickly, I would succumb.  There were no frantic or desperate overtones to her voice.  Her words were those of a person who need not defend them.  It was that confidence, the likes of which I have never known, that convinced me of their truth.  She told me what it is.  She told me the name of the third meaning.  And when I heard it, all the shouting ceased.  That’s why I was and still am so calm.”

“So tell me, man, what is it?  What is the third meaning?” I implored.

He wouldn’t say.  He only smiled dreamily as if in shock.  The full impact of his vision must have washed over him without warning like a tsunami after an earthquake.  He begged my pardon and left me to ponder all he had related.

[To be continued next week.......]